Skip to content

Ted Lasso is Wrong

Ted Lasso is wrong, but we still need to act like goldfish.

Fellow leader – if you’re a fan of Ted Lasso, you’ll remember the wisdom Ted shares with his “futball” athletes after every bad play or loss on the soccer field: “A goldfish only has a three second memory.  You need to be like a goldfish.  Forget the bad game and move on.”



Unfortunately, Ted is at least partially wrong.  I know.  I’ve been feeding goldfish for several years, and they have a much better memory than Ted gives them credit for.

The backstory: My wife and I are water people. We own swim schools, we live near a lake, we have a 25-year-old ski boat on a trailer in the driveway, I waterski early mornings during the summer months, our vacations typically include beaches rather than mountains, etc. etc. We are water people.

And it goes further. Even though we live on a very small lot, we have not one, not two, but three fountains: one in the front yard that attracts birds and squirrels, one on our side yard that makes a very pleasant sound next to a couple of bedroom windows, and a large fountain in the back yard.  More than six feet tall, the backyard fountain has a seven-foot diameter basin that is more than a foot deep.  My insight on goldfish comes because the basin is home to more than a dozen well-cared-for goldfish, summer-season frogs, mosquito fish and even a couple of growing koi.

Here’s why I know Ted Lasso is wrong.  Every morning, as I approach the fountain with fish food in hand, there is a bit of a feeding frenzy. The goldfish “jockey for position” with the other fish to see who can be closest to the part of the fountain where I’m spreading the fish food flakes.  The goldfish come from under the fountain base every morning – they remember (at least for 24 hours) what happened yesterday when fish food flakes appeared on the top of the water.  Ted Lasso is wrong.  Goldfish remember.

Here’s what Ted Lasso gets right: while we may remember the past, we shouldn’t dwell on it, particularly the negative part. Ted’s advice is particularly appropriate as we launch into a new year. The past reflections we do should be more about lessons learned and less about discouraging disappointments.

To that end, fellow leader, what are some lessons learned for you from the past year?  For me, I realize I need to pay closer attention to the finances in our businesses.  We opened two new facilities in the past year and took on a reasonable amount of debt to do so.  In the coming season, I need to look more closely than ever at our cashflow statements along with our P&Ls and Balance Sheets.  At a personal level, I also know I need to become more consistent with a daily rhythm of devotional reading, journal writing, prayer and reflection.

How about you, fellow leader?  What are two or three lessons learned from the last year that can help you become a better version of yourself in the coming year?  To borrow from Ted Lasso, how can you “forget the negative” while still moving forward with positive improvement?